Livingstone picked for England
'Pindi pitch could be flat
Big runs impact draw price
Pakistan v England
Thursday 1 December, 05:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Pakistan are without Shaheen Shah Afridi. They have also dropped the experienced spinner, Yasir Shah and there is no room for Hasan Ali. It is hard not to reckon this is a weak home bowling attack. Four of their top five wicket-takers in the last two years are not involved.
Haris Rauf could well be the attack leader and there could be debuts for Mohammad Ali, a pcer, and the mystery leggie Abrar AHmed.
Fawad Alam, he of the crab batting style, has been axed with Shan Masood taking over in the middle order. But Pakistan do appear to have found an opening partnership of note in Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique.
Possible XI: Imam, Shafique, Azhar Ali, Babar, Masood, Rizwan, Faheem, Nawaz, Naseem, Rauf/Wasim, Abrar Ahmed
England made a big call a few days ago by dropping Alex Lees in favour of Ben Duckett. Duckett's prowess against spin makes him a sensible choice.
They made another on Wednesday in handing the No 7 slot to Liam Livingstone as the batting all-rounder. Livingstone did not play a single Championship match last season. In the 2021 campaign he averaged 11 with the bat and 62 with the ball.
Just as sick are, well, England. Illness has swept through the camp meaning the start could be delayed until Friday, potentially making it a four-day game. So in reality the named XI means little.
Mark Wood is out injured and his participation in the three-Test series must be in doubt.
Confirmed XI: Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Brook, Stokes, Livingstone, Foakes, Robinson, Leach, Anderson
The Rawalpindi pitch was a road for the Test against Australia in March. Pakistan's 476 played 459 and then the home team made 250-odd for zilch in the third. We expect something similar and with the two bowling attacks potentially weak, big runs is a play.
We'd have more faith that Pakistan can go well considering familiarity with conditions and will look for decent prices on 400 or more at around the 2.56/4 mark. More than 375 could be on offer at 2.26/5.
How to play
Pakistan are 2.3211/8, England 3.814/5 and the draw is 3.1511/5. It is hard not to reckon that it's a dreadful price about the tourists who are beginning to take the mick.
As admirable as their attacking flair was in the summer, the apparent desperation to play white-ball cricket in the longer format will surely come unstuck at some stage. Not least because their selection policy is crackers, bordering on disrespectful. Livingstone gets a chance given his paucity of action and ability in the last two years? Seriously?
Australia won in Pakistan in March with attritional, boring cricket. Currently, only Pakistan are set up to play that way. If they bat first they really should make England toil and then spin them out.
The stalemate is also of interest. On a road that price collapses and it could well be that a trade is on to short odds-against. We also have delays and a cancelled day on side.
Imam and Azhar Ali both hit tons in first-innings in that test against Australia on this ground. Sportsbook go 7/2 and 9/2 about either top scoring for the hosts. Joe Root is 2/1 for England top bat. Duckett looks toppy at 5s cosndeirjng the new ball is unlikely to swing much and he's a fine player of spin.